Allbirds, founded in 2014, rose to prominence in the shoe industry by making an eco-friendly casual shoe called the Wool Runners. While they weren’t meant for running, the shoes gained popularity, especially in San Francisco tech circles. The brand’s growth exploded and now they’ve made an actual running shoe, the Allbirds Tree Dasher. Can a brand focused on merino wool, eucalyptus fibers, and casual comfort make a good running shoe? Let’s find out.
I bought my normal size, and out of the box, they felt too small lengthwise. However, after a couple runs, they broke in nicely. The Tree Dashers achilles pillows push you a little forward so I think once they mold to your foot, the sizing is perfect.
The fit is socklike and extremely comfortable. It’s tighter through the midfoot to add support, but that’s normal for knit shoes.
As for wide footers, you’ve got plenty of room up front for toe splay and the upper breaks in so you can go true to size.
The Tree Dasher’s support is really good for a knit shoe. Allbirds put outriggers at all four corners (lateral heel and forefoot, medial heel and forefoot). I felt those outriggers righting the ship on uneven pavement.
When I saw the fruit loop eyelets sewn into the knit upper, I wondered if I would be able to get good heel lockdown. I was worried for no reason. Once I found the proper lace tightness, I could slip the shoe on and off without retying or experiencing any heel slip.
Add that all up and it’s one of the more supportive knit sneakers. You can use the Tree Dasher for a HIIT workout or in the weight room. And that’s despite having no heel counter! I was impressed with how Allbirds built this shoe.
The knit upper is made from eucalyptus trees. Which sounds cool and IS nice in practice because it’s super soft. Definitely softer than the knits used by the big brands. It direct affects all day comfort in a positive way. It’s a really lux knit with the bonus of being more sustainable.
The ZQ Merino wool lining the heel collar and covering the achilles pillows is a nice premium touch. I think it also contributes to lockdown as the Merino is a bit tackier than the knit and helps hold the heel in place. Functional and comfortable? Check.
And I have to mention the big plastic eyelets sewn into the upper. Yes, they’re cartoony, but they get the job done. They don’t feel like they’d ever break off (as seen on other knit models) because they’re sewn on really well. If only some other brands would reinforce knit eyelets like Allbirds did here.
The Tree Dasher uses a dual density SweetFoam midsole. SweetFoam is the world’s first carbon negative green EVA. So sustainability-wise it’s awesome. For running? It’s just ok. It’s not near as soft as current running shoe trends dictate and there’s not a lot of cushion under foot. The softness is similar but a slightly softer feel than the On Cloud X. The Tree Dasher features a 7mm drop with 15.5mm of foam in the forefoot and 22.5mm in the heel. Luckily, there’s a soft castor bean sockliner that feels as plush as an ortholite insole. That helps with step-in comfort and feel.
Now, even though the Tree Dasher lacks ample cushioning, that’s not to say the shoe isn’t comfortable. It’s soft enough for walking and short runs. I didn’t like taking it over 3-4 miles outdoors but loved it for evening walks with my son. It can handle a bit more mileage on a treadmill as well. It’s the type of shoe that’s perfect for mostly casual wear and the occasional run. It’s a great shoe for a vacation where you want to pack light but still get a couple runs in amidst the travel.
Easily the worst part of the shoe. Runs in rain or other wintry conditions are slip-fests. The rubber pads at the heel and forefoot cover a lot of surface area but don’t bite into the pavement at all. Allbirds needs to tweak their rubber formula on future running shoes. That said, the outsole grips fine on dry days. Just be aware of this limitation if you buy them.
The Allbirds Tree Dasher is a running shoe you can run some miles in and get compliments when you wear them casually. The cushion and traction need work but this is a good first running shoe effort from Allbirds. I bet they can do something even better when they revisit this model. And $125 is a very competitive price point for a carbon neutral shoe. If sustainability is important to you, I’m not sure you’ll find another running shoe that can compete ecologically.
How to Buy the Allbirds Tree Dasher
The Allbirds Tree Dasher is currently available in Men’s and Women’s versions at Allbirds. Browse the 15+ available colorways by clicking the links below.
Find more WearTesters Running Shoe Reviews here.
Thanks to Allbirds for sending a pair to test. Allbirds was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.